McDonalds aims to hire 600 workers in Portland metro area

PORTLAND, Ore. – McDonalds supersized its hiring process on Tuesday with a plan to hire 50,000 workers across the country. 600 of those jobs will be in the Portland metro area.

McDonald's painted the event as a boon for an economy where more than 13 million Americans are looking for work. But the real purpose, industry experts said, is that McDonald's needs to portray itself as a decent employer.

Matt Hadwin, a local McDonalds owner, said he is looking for employees who are dependable, energetic and responsible. He liked the search process that mirrored the way the restaurant does business, which is to say it’s fast.

Cody Bell was one of the thousands applying for positions. Tuesday’s interview was his first ever. If selected, he might find himself cleaning toilets, working the fry line and maybe one day rising to management level.

The numbers show that fifty percent of all McDonalds owners around the country started off behind the counter.

“I was a dad at 18 and supported my family as a McDonalds crewperson,” said Hadwin. He said this latest push brought in high-quality applicants.

“I was very surprised,” he said. “There was a gentleman in a business suit, I saw four people that were my age or older and I’m 48. So I think we’re seeing a very diverse group.” | Learn more about the challenges of looking for a job when you're older than 50

McDonald's and other fast-food chains, once an entry point into the work force for teenagers, appear to be turning into an employer of more adults, a legacy of the recession, industry watchers said. The average age of a fast-food worker is 29.5, up from 22 in 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown said the 600 new jobs will be a major boost to the state.

“It’s absolutely huge and for those families that have people that are unemployed. Every job makes a difference,” she said.

Vancouver, Wash. McDonalds were also hiring. They had 1,206 people apply for 150 positions.

Danitra Barnett, McDonald's U.S. vice president of human resources, said she couldn't specify what proportion of the 50,000 new jobs will be full-time, or what they will pay. About 90 percent of McDonald's restaurants are owned by franchisees, and the company doesn't control what they offer in wages or benefits. Barnett said most franchisees pay more than minimum wage, which is $7.25-an-hour nationally.

$7.25 an hour would amount to about $15,000 a year for a full-time worker, according to government formulas.

McDonald's said it and its franchisees will spend an additional $518 million in the coming year because of Tuesday's hiring. That amounts to just over $10,000 per new employee.

Spokeswoman Danya Proud said the company preferred to focus on the net economic benefit of the new hiring, including the money that employees will spend in their local economies.

Several other companies in the Portland area are hiring large numbers of workers. Here are the top five, according to the website Linkup.com.

  • Intel – 575 jobs
  • Kaiser Permanente – 243 jobs
  • Nike – 229 jobs
  • Providence Health Services – 206 jobs
  • Nordstrom – 123 jobs

McDonald's is expected to release their final hiring count next week.

Related links:

Watch a story about the challenges of being older than 50 and searching for a job 

Watch a story about companies that are hiring in Oregon:

The Associated Press contributed to this report